NFL Team Grades for Week 7

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystOctober 23, 2017

NFL Team Grades for Week 7

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Week 7 was an object lesson in the fact that the only constant in the NFL is that there are no constants in the NFL. 

    We saw a pair of perennial doormats in the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars continue impressive first halves in dominant fashion.

    We watched the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins pull out gutsy wins with backup quarterbacks—third-stringers on a fully healthy depth chart, as a matter of fact.

    We witnessed a stunningly easy win for rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears over the Carolina Panthers.

    And we saw the Cleveland Browns fall to to 0-7 for the year.

    OK, so there's one constant in the NFL...the Browns stink.

    All that action happened in the early games of a week that began with a thriller in Oakland and wrapped (on Sunday at least) with a rematch of Super Bowl LI.

    Now that the dust has settled on Week 7, it's time to start assigning As and Cs and Fs.

    So let's make with the grading.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: vs. Los Angeles Rams (London)

    Score: Lost 33-0

    After getting throttled 33-0 by the Los Angeles Rams in London on Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals now hate England more than American colonists, Indian independence activists and the French put together.

    It wasn’t just the game itself, although that was a nightmare. After a huge debut for the Redbirds last week, tailback Adrian Peterson was completely shut down. The Arizona passing attack may have done even less. And the defense was shredded by the league’s highest-scoring team.

    From there it got worse.

    Head coach Bruce Arians told reporters quarterback Carson Palmer will likely miss at least eight weeks after he took a shot in the second quarter that resulted in a broken left arm.

    This, after the Cardinals already lost star tailback David Johnson to a dislocated wrist.

    At the risk of sounding apocalyptic, if there was any hope remaining for the 2017 Cardinals entering Week 7, it’s now toast. The fat lady has sung. The fork has been stuck. The lights are out and the party has concluded.

    There’s no coming back from this. And given all the aging stars on Arizona’s roster, an era in the desert may have ended in dreadful fashion across the Pond.

    Week 7 Grade: F

    Season Grade: D+

Atlanta Falcons

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: at New England Patriots

    Score: Lost 23-7

    There’s no easy way to say this, but it needs to be said.

    The Atlanta Falcons have problems. Real problems. And that those problems are on offense is as baffling as it is disconcerting.

    It’s not that the Falcons lost at Gillette Stadium. That’s hardly a rarity. It’s how they lost.

    Playing against a New England defense that entered Week 7 dead last in the NFL defensively, the Falcons managed all of seven points. Matt Ryan became the first quarterback to face the Patriots in 2017 who didn’t crack 300 passing yards, and much of the yardage he did have was accrued with the game out of reach.

    Over their last three games (all losses), the Falcons are averaging less than 14 points per contest. An offense with Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones and the reigning NFL MVP is struggling mightily to move the football.

    In three of the next four weeks, the Falcons will be on the road—including trips to Charlotte and Seattle. Their one home game over the next month is against a Dallas team that won 13 games last year and just played their best game of the season.

    If the Falcons don’t solve their offensive issues PDQ, they won’t have to worry about defending their NFC title.

    Because they won’t make the playoffs at all.

    Week 7 Grade: D-

    Season Grade: C

Baltimore Ravens

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: at Minnesota Vikings

    Score: Lost 24-16

    A couple of weeks ago, after Baltimore handled the Raiders in Oakland, it looked like the 3-2 Ravens may have figured out a solution to their offensive issues.

    They haven't.

    The Ravens looked terrible on that side of the ball against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 7, barely cracking 200 total yards. And the poster child for the team's offensive issues just so happens to be the Ravens' highest-paid player.

    Joe Flacco at least managed to avoid throwing an interception against the Vikings, but for the fourth time in seven games, Flacco failed to throw for 200 yards. He has yet to crack 250 passing yards all season, and he has five touchdowns against eight picks.

    All the blame for the Ravens' putrid offense doesn't rest with Flacco. Baltimore's receivers aren't making things any easier for the 32-year-old, and the Ravens run game was nonexistent in Minnesota.

    But who shoulders the most blame really isn't relevant at the moment. In the moment, all that matters is results—or the lack of them.

    The Ravens aren't going to the playoffs in 2017. It will mark the third straight year that's been the case.

    And an offseason with some hard decisions is looming.

    Week 7 Grade: D

    Season Grade: D+

Buffalo Bills

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Score: Won 30-27

    When we last saw the Buffalo Bills, they looked like an also-ran in a 20-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

    And when Tampa’s Mike Evans caught the go-ahead score with just over three minutes to play, it looked like the Bills were headed for a second straight loss and a .500 record. That a Buffalo team that was neither especially good nor especially bad was headed for a 18th straight season of missing the playoffs.

    However, the Bills rallied. First, the team marched the length of the field in less than a minute, with LeSean McCoy picking up his second rushing score of the day (and season) to knot things up.

    Then, after forcing a Tampa fumble on the first play of the ensuing drive, the Bills drove 21 yards for Stephen Hauschka to punch through a game-winning 30-yard field goal that lifted Buffalo to 4-2 and (at least temporarily) a share of first place in the AFC East.

    Close games have been a fixture for the Bills in 2017. Of their four wins, none have been by more than 10 points. Their two losses were by four to the Bengals and six to the Carolina Panthers.

    So long as their defense continues holding opponents in check (even after allowing 27 to the Bucs, the Bills are surrendering fewer than 17 points a game), the Bills are going to keep playing close games. Keep having a chance to pull it out at the end.

    And that makes them dangerous.

    Week 7 Grade: B

    Season Grade: B

Carolina Panthers

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: at Chicago Bears

    Score: Lost 17-3

    In Week 6, the Carolina Panthers lost a hard-fought matchup with the 5-1 Philadelphia Eagles in Charlotte.

    Apparently, the Panthers then left their fight in North Carolina, because they didn’t show much of it in one of Week 7’s flattest performances in the Windy City.

    Panthers quarterback Cam Newton reverted to the player who pitched and lurched his way through the early part of the season. Newton committed three turnovers in the game. Two of those turnovers were returned for touchdowns.

    They were the only touchdowns of the game by either team on a day when the Panthers offense was out of sync when it mattered. Despite going 6-of-15 on third downs, outgaining the Bears almost 2-to-1 and holding the ball for almost 40 minutes, Carolina just could not finish drives.

    This wasn’t just a poor performance. It was an embarrassment—one that cost the Panthers first place in the division.

    And with back-to-back division games upcoming and the Panthers already 0-1 against the NFC South, the Panthers had better find their fight before the season gets away from them.

    Week 7 Grade: F

    Season Grade: C+

Chicago Bears

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: vs. Carolina Panthers

    Score: Won 17-3

    The Week 7 award for "Weirdest Outcome” no doubt goes to the Chicago Bears' 14-point win over the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field.

    It isn't that the Bears won. This is the same Bears team that snuck up and bit the Pittsburgh Steelers on the backside in Week 3.

    But how the team did it was one funky monkey.

    The Bears offense scored all of three points. On a day where Jordan Howard (21 carries, 65 yards) was held in check, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was forced to the air for all of seven pass attempts.

    Yes. Seven. For the entire game.

    Chicago's two touchdowns came courtesy of a fumble return and an interception return. By the same guy.

    Safety Eddie Jackson had a day.

    To call the Chicago Bears a good team is rather stretching the definition of "good.” They aren't going to make the playoffs.

    But they are better than expected, and since Trubisky took over they're 2-1.

    Don't ask me how they are, but they are.

    Week 7 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: C-

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: at Pittsburgh Steelers

    Score: Lost 29-14

    During the Andy Dalton era in Cincinnati, the Bengals have struggled mightily against their AFC North rivals from Western Pennsylvania. Over that span, the team is 3-10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Check that—3-11.

    For the first half of the marquee game of Sunday's 4 p.m. slate, the Bengals hung right with the Steelers. It was 14-14 at one point, and at intermission the Bengals trailed by just six points.

    They wouldn't get any closer.

    With all due credit to the Steelers, the Bengals helped them out in this game. While the Steelers controlled tempo and gave Le'Veon Bell the ball 30-plus times, the Bengals had just 14 rushing attempts by running backs. 

    That, in turn, put pressure on Andy Dalton behind a porous offensive line. Dalton threw for just 140 yards, tossed a pair of interceptions and was sacked four times.

    In the second half especially, the Bengals neither played well or were coached well. They looked like what they are.

    A 2-4 football team.

    Week 7 Grade: D

    Season Grade: C-

Cleveland Browns

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: vs. Tennessee Titans

    Score: Lost 12-9 (OT)

    For the Cleveland Browns, there is no such thing as rock bottom.

    Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do.

    Yes, the Browns held the Tennessee Titans out of the end zone on Sunday at the Factory of Sadness. They even forced overtime with a 54-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal. But in the end, it was the same old story for the NFL’s worst team.

    The quarterback play was abysmal—again. DeShone Kizer and Cody Kessler (Kizer was benched—again) combined for 218 yards, three interceptions and a passer rating of 42.2. The Browns ran for a whopping 66 yards on 26 carries rushing.

    That’s 2.5 yards a pop.

    But there was a new wrinkle. An extra level of despair for a fanbase that’s already endured a staggering level of misery and disappointment since 1999.

    Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, who had never missed so much as a snap in his NFL career entering the game, left with an arm injury and did not return.

    I don’t know if the grade exists to accurately reflect how awful the 2017 Browns are.

    0-16, here they come.

    Week 7 Grade: F

    Season Grade: Z-

Dallas Cowboys

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    Eric Risberg/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: at San Francisco 49ers

    Score: Won 40-10

    After dropping two in a row before their Week 6 bye and three of their last four, the Dallas Cowboys badly needed a big showing against the winless San Francisco 49ers in Week 7.

    They got it.

    You name a category, the Cowboys dominated in it against a Niners team that looked completely out of its depth.

    Ezekiel Elliott destroyed San Francisco's defense to the tune of 219 total yards and three touchdowns. Dak Prescott threw for 234 yards and three scores and ran for another. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten combined for a 11/117/2 stat line.

    Most importantly, the Dallas defense looked lightyears better with Sean Lee back on the field.

    Even an injury to kicker Dan Bailey couldn't spoil the fun. In addition to racking up six solo tackles, safety Jeff Heath went 2-for-3 on extra-point attempts.

    It was that kind of game.

    The Cowboys are about to head into a brutal four-game stretch (at Washington, Kansas City, at Atlanta, Philadelphia), and this win gave them some badly needed momentum as they do it.

    All they need now is (maybe) a new kicker.

    Week 7 Grade: A

    Season Grade: B-

Denver Broncos

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: At Los Angeles Chargers

    Score: Lost 21-0

    If losing at home to the winless New York Giants last week was bad for the Denver Broncos, then getting shut out on the road by the Los Angeles Chargers was infinitely worse.

    The Denver offense was just that—offensive. C.J. Anderson averaged 4.4 yards a carry, but for reasons known only to Vance Joseph, Anderson was also only given 10 carries.

    Trevor Siemian, on the other hand, attempted 35 passes. It was a miserable performance. With Emmanuel Sanders on the shelf, Demaryius Thomas had just two grabs for nine yards, and Siemian was both intercepted and lost a fumble.

    It wasn’t entirely Siemian’s fault. The Denver O-line spent the day showing off its impression of a revolving door, allowing five sacks, six QB hits and innumerable pressures.

    This wasn’t just a loss or a second straight setback. It’s twice in a row that the Broncos were spanked by a team most would have called "inferior" heading in.

    Maybe that "inferior" label should start being applied to the Broncos instead--especially with a murderous stretch in the schedule (at Kansas City, at Philadelphia, New England) coming up.

    Week 7 Grade: F

    Season Grade: C-

Detroit Lions

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: Bye Week

    Score: N/A

    The bye week came at a good time for the Detroit Lions.

    With Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers likely out for the season, the NFC North is as wide open as it’s been in years.

    But rather than being in a position to capitalize on Green Bay’s misfortune, the Lions are just trying to figure out how to stop their two-game skid.

    In each of those losses (to the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints), the Lions have dug a big hole early only to mount a frenetic comeback that came up short.

    Now, with a crucial Week 8 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers looming, the Lions have even more problems. As MLive.com's Nate Atkins reported, a number of key players—from quarterback Matthew Stafford to safety Glover Quin to top receiver Golden Tate—are banged up. Tate will all but surely miss next week’s game.

    With Detroit headed to Green Bay after hosting the Steelers, the next two weeks could be pivotal in determining whether the Lions will have a realistic shot at a second straight playoff trip in 2017.

    Week 7 Grade: N/A

    Season Grade: C

Green Bay Packers

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: New Orleans Saints

    Score: Lost 26-17

    We knew the Green Bay Packers were in big trouble when quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone.

    And most of what we feared came to pass in Sunday's loss at Lambeau to the Saints.

    The Packers got a great game out of rookie tailback Aaron Jones, who topped 100 yards rushing, scored on a 46-yard scamper and averaged almost eight yards a pop.

    The Packers also got a decent effort from the defense, which picked off Drew Brees twice in the first half.

    What they most assuredly did not get was good play from quarterback Brett Hundley. Or even so-so play.

    Against a Saints defense that ain't exactly the '85 Bears, Hundley completed fewer than half of his passes for 87 yards with an interception. He looked the part of a fifth-round pick who had never started an NFL game—and then some.

    The Packers, thankfully, are on a bye in Week 8. They have 14 days to try to figure out a next step before they host the Detroit Lions on November 6.

    They'd best get to figuring. Because if they play like this the rest of the way, a Green Bay team that entered 2017 planning a trip to Minneapolis in February will be lucky to go 6-10.

    Week 7 Grade: D

    Season Grade: C

Houston Texans

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: Bye Week

    Score: N/A

    The first seven weeks of the 2017 season have been a combination of good news and bad news for the Houston Texans.

    The bad news mostly came in a Week 5 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. In the span of a few minutes in the first quarter of that prime-time affair, the Texans lost both defensive end J.J. Watt and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus to season-ending injuries.

    That's the team's two best pass-rushers—lost in the blink of an eye.

    The good news has been rolling in since the middle of Week 1. Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, who the Texans moved up to draft back in April, appears to be the real deal. Watson has passed for nearly 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Watson's posted a passer rating of over 100 and added 202 more yards and two scores on the ground.

    When the season began, the belief was that the Texans would be a team carried by their defense, just as they were a year ago.

    But if the Texans are going to repeat as AFC South champs, it's going to be because of Watson's right arm and the offense.

    Week 7 Grade: N/A

    Season Grade: B-

Indianapolis Colts

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    Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

    Score: Lost 27-0

    Let’s see if we can find something good to say about the Indianapolis Colts after the Jacksonville Jaguars used them for a dust mop in Week 7.

    To his credit, quarterback Jacoby Brissett didn’t throw an interception.

    Of course, he also didn’t throw a touchdown pass and was sacked 10 times.

    Yes, you read that right.

    To his credit, young tailback Marlon Mack averaged over five yards a carry.

    Of course, he only carried it five times.

    To his credit, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton improved on his numbers from the week before.

    Of course, by "improved" I mean he caught two passes instead of just one.

    All this isn’t meant to pile on the Colts. But they are what they are—a flawed team whose flaws are made all the more evident by the absence of Andrew Luck.

    Luck isn’t coming back any time soon.

    And if there was any doubt before, it was settled Sunday.

    This is the worst team in the league’s worst division.

    Week 7 Grade: F

    Season Grade: D-

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: at Indianapolis Colts

    Score: Won 27-0

    I get quite a bit of flak from Jaguars fans for failing to take the team (or its fanbase) seriously.

    Well, it's a brave new day, Jaguars nation. Here goes…

    The Jaguars are a legitimate playoff contender, and not just because they play in the NFL's worst division.

    It isn't because they flattened the Indianapolis Colts on the road. This is not exactly an achievement, as the Colts stink. 

    To their credit, though, it is the fourth time they've blown someone out away from home, as they routed the Baltimore Ravens in London, pasted the Houston Texans in Week 1 and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers by three touchdowns at Heinz Field.

    When the Jags win, they win big...and on the road. Their average margin of victory this season is almost 27 points per game, and all four victories are away from Jacksonville.

    It also isn't because the Jaguars won in Week 7 without Leonard Fournette, although it was good news that they got the efforts they did from T.J. Yeldon and especially Blake Bortles, who had by far his best game of the year with 330 yards through the air.

    No, it's the Jaguars defense that's the big story again in Week 7, a defense that was once again dominant against the Colts. A defense that piled up 10 sacks in Indy. A defense that Jacoby Brissett will be having nightmares about for months.

    It's the second 10-sack game for the Jaguars this year. They're the first team in over three decades to accomplish that feat.

    On days where that defense plays at this level, the Jaguars can beat just about anybody.

    Week 7 Grade: A

    Season Grade: B-

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: at Oakland Raiders

    Score: Lost 31-30

    In the immortal words of famed football philosopher Scooby-Doo, "Ruh-roh."

    A couple of weeks ago, the Kansas City Chiefs looked like the clear class of the NFL—a 5-0 juggernaut that was unstoppable on offense and stifling on defense.

    My how things can change in a fortnight.

    After falling in Oakland by a single point on the last play of the game Thursday night, the suddenly slipping Chiefs have now dropped two in a row. And while quarterback Alex Smith, tailback Kareem Hunt, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and the offense are still humming along, some potential weaknesses have been exposed defensively.

    Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 6, it was a soft middle being chewed up by tailback Le'Veon Bell. Thursday, it was quarterback Derek Carr and wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree having their way with the Chiefs on the outside to the tune of 417 passing yards.

    The Chiefs may well still be the best team in the AFC. They are still in first place in the AFC West, and two losses are not a cause for panic.

    But there's reason for concern, and something's becoming pretty clear.

    The NFL is as wide open this season as any in recent memory.

    Week 7 Grade: D+

    Season Grade: B+

Los Angeles Chargers

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: vs. Denver Broncos

    Score: Won 21-0

    Don't look now, but here they come…

    San Diego...SUPER Chargers!

    Oh, wait. That's right. The whole move thing.

    It may have happened in front of 13 people (eight of whom were Denver fans) in a soccer stadium, but the Los Angeles Chargers had by far their best game of the season in flattening the Denver Broncos 21-0 in Week 7.

    The wildest part wasn't the final score. It's that the Bolts did so with Philip Rivers posting fewer than 200 passing yards and tailback Melvin Gordon averaging barely two yards per carry.

    When your defense plays like the Chargers' did though, the offense doesn't have to do a whole lot.

    The Chargers were phenomenal defensively at the StubHub Center. They allowed just 251 yards of total offense and piled up seven tackles for loss and five sacks, including three by ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa.

    After dropping their first four games of the season, the Chargers have now peeled off three consecutive wins, and the team has a chance to do what seemed impossible not too long ago: hit the halfway point as a .500 team.

    All they have to do now is beat the Patriots on the road.

    Week 7 Grade: A-

    Season Grade: C

Los Angeles Rams

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    Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: vs. Arizona Cardinals (London)

    Score: Won 33-0

    Since losing two weeks ago to the Seattle Seahawks, the Los Angeles Rams have taken the show on the road—first to Jacksonville and then in a "home" game across the Atlantic in London.

    And hoo boy what a show it’s been.

    The NFL’s highest-scoring team didn’t miss a beat in waxing the Arizona Cardinals 33-0. The Rams didn’t post especially gaudy numbers either—Jared Goff threw for 235 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another, while tailback Todd Gurley added 106 yards and a score on the ground.

    But as they’ve been most of this season, the Rams were brutally efficient. The team made six trips into the red zone against the Redbirds and came away with points every time.

    The defense also turned in arguably its best effort of the year, stifling Arizona running back Adrian Peterson, knocking quarterback Carson Palmer out of the game and surrendering fewer than 200 total yards for the afternoon.

    If you’re waiting for the Rams to falter, do yourself a favor and stop.

    At 5-2, the Rams are for real.

    In fact, they look like the best team in their division, even after the loss to Seattle.

    Week 7 Grade: A

    Season Grade: B+

Miami Dolphins

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: vs. New York Jets

    Score: Won 31-28

    There isn’t a more surprising team in the NFL this year than the 4-2 Miami Dolphins.

    That the 'Fins are 4-2 isn’t that stunning when you consider that Miami won 10 games and made the postseason last year.

    No, what’s surprising is that Miami keeps winning despite an offense that’s been awful for much of the year.

    Of course, the Dolphins were hardly awful offensively in Week 7. They came roaring back from a two-touchdown second-half deficit to shock the division rival Jets. And in doing so, the Dolphins may have discovered a recipe for future success.

    Bench Jay Cutler.

    Sure, Cutler was having his best game as a Dolphin before a ribs injury forced him from the game. But it was backup Matt Moore who engineered Miami’s comeback, passing for 188 yards and two scores.

    The Dolphins have had no shortage of drama at quarterback this year, from Ryan Tannehill’s injury to the Cutler signing to the latter’s horrific play most of this year.

    Now you can add a good old-fashioned quarterback controversy to the mix, although, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Cutler's ribs might settle that one for them at least temporarily.

    Week 7 Grade: B

    Season Grade: C+

Minnesota Vikings

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: vs. Baltimore Ravens

    Score: Won 24-16

    After downing a lifeless Baltimore Ravens team at home in Week 7, the Minnesota Vikings are looking more and more like the class of the NFC North.

    Minnesota's 5-2 record is impressive in and of itself. That they've achieved that with their second-string quarterback and tailback and without their No. 1 receiver on the field is even more so.

    Of course, the Vikings win didn't come because of anything Case Keenum did under center. It came in spite of it. Keenum passed for just 188 yards with an interception and posted a passer rating of 67.7.

    Tailback Latavius Murray, on the other hand, had his best game as a Viking. Murray rumbled for 113 yards and a score against the Ravens, averaging better than six yards a carry.

    Add in a stifling defensive effort (the Vikings allowed just 208 total yards) and you have a victory that's emblematic of the 2017 Vikes.

    Short on sizzle, long on steak.

    Week 7 Grade: B

    Season Grade: B

New England Patriots

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: Atlanta Falcons

    Score: Won 23-7

    The New England Patriots came into Week 7 at 4-2, but it was a shaky 4-2—at least by their lofty standards. The defense was dead last in a number of categories, including points allowed. All six quarterbacks the Pats had faced passed for over 300 yards.

    On a foggy Sunday night at Gillette Stadium, however, it was a different story.

    The defending champions played easily their most complete game of 2017 in handling the Atlanta Falcons 23-7. A game hyped as a Super Bowl rematch was neither super nor much of a match.

    The offense was its usual solid stuff, but it was the defense that really showed up. Matt Ryan threw for just 233 yards, and most of that came with the game well in hand. After allowing over 440 yards a game over the first six weeks of 2017, the Patriots gave up just 343 to Atlanta.

    It was the sort of performance the Patriots needed, but every other team in the NFL dreaded—a sign that the Pats may be putting it together defensively.

    One game doesn’t make it certain they have, but the rest of the league is sweating after watching the Pats in Week 7.

    As they should be.

    Week 7 Grade: A

    Season Grade: B+

New Orleans Saints

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: at Green Bay Packers

    Score: Won 26-17

    After the New Orleans Saints lost their first two games, it looked like it was going to be another year of the same old thing in the Big Easy: Drew Brees throwing the ball 265 times a game in an effort to win shootouts because the Saints can't stop anyone.

    Don't look now, but a month later, the Saints are riding a four-game winning streak and sitting in first place in the NFC South.

    This week's win carries a bit of an asterisk. The Green Bay Packers without Aaron Rodgers are not really the Green Bay Packers. Brees also scuffled early in the game, tossing a pair of first-half interceptions.

    But the Saints still got it done in some very un-Saints-like ways.

    For the second game in a row, running back Mark Ingram hit triple digits, rushing for 105 yards and a score on 22 carries. And while the defense wasn't great, it was good enough. A Kenny Vaccaro pick ended any hope of a Packers comeback.

    The Saints are headed into a winnable four-game stretch in which three will be played in the friendly confines of the Superdome.

    This is a team that could easily be 7-3 through 10 games and in the driver's seat in its division.

    Week 7 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: B

New York Giants

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: vs. Seattle Seahawks

    Score: Lost 24-7

    After watching the New York Giants get beaten like a drum for 30 minutes in the second half of their Week 7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, it's fair to wonder whether their Week 6 win at Denver was some sort of mass hallucination.

    Everything that went right for the G-Men at Mile High, um, didn't against the Seahawks.

    Tailback Orleans Darkwa, who topped 100 rushing yards against the Broncos, managed just 35 against the Seahawks. The Giants ran for 46 yards as a team.

    The injury-ravaged Giants receiving corps fared no better. Tight end Evan Engram caught six passes for 60 yards and a touchdown, but the rest of the pass-catchers only posted 74 yards.

    Eli Manning completed under half of his passes for all of 134 yards. His average per attempt was a horrific 3.4 yards.

    There isn't a team in the league that has seen things go more completely off the rails than Big Blue. New york entered the season with hopes of a deep playoff run.

    It will enter the second half of 2017 hoping desperately to just make it to 4-12.

    Week 7 Grade: F

    Season Grade: F

New York Jets

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: at Miami Dolphins

    Score: Lost 31-28

    After peeling off three straight wins earlier this season, the New York Jets garnered a bit of buzz as a potential Cinderella story.

    They've turned back into a pumpkin.

    In each of the last two weeks, the Jets have lost heartbreakers to AFC East foes. The latest setback was a crusher—a three-point loss to the Matt Moore-led Miami Dolphins in a game where the Jets led by 14 points entering the fourth quarter.

    For most of the afternoon, Jets quarterback Josh McCown played well. His passer rating for the game was well over 100 and he threw for three touchdowns. But his late interception set up the game-winning field goal, and a Jeremy Kerley fumble just after sealed the deal.

    The Jets are a better team than most expected. With the exception of a blowout loss in Oakland, all of their defeats have been by single digits.

    But as we saw in Week 7, they have no margin for error. All it takes is one mistake (or in this case two) to make the difference between victory and defeat.

    Week 7 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: C

Oakland Raiders

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs

    Score: Won 31-30

    The Oakland Raiders rolled into Week 7 with a simple edict: Win against the division-leading Chiefs, or fall to 2-5 and see any real chance at the playoffs go out the door.

    No pressure, fellas.

    For the first time in over a month, the Raiders responded, snapping their four-game skid with a wild 31-30 win when quarterback Derek Carr found wideout Michael Crabtree in the corner of the end zone as the clock hit triple zeroes.

    Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper had easily their best performances of the season, with the latter piling up more receiving yardage against the Chiefs than he had all season long.

    It was far from a flawless win. Oakland's defense was carved up like a jack-o-lantern by Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, and tailback Marshawn Lynch was ejected in the second quarter for coming off the bench and making contact with an official.

    But the how is secondary. The Raiders had to get this win to keep a season that started with aspirations of a  Super Bowl from falling completely apart.

    For one week at least, mission accomplished.

    Week 7 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: C

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: vs. Washington Redskins

    Score: Won 34-24

    The Philadelphia Eagles came into Week 7 fresh off a mini-bye with a chance to establish a stranglehold on the NFC East at home against the Washington Redskins.

    It took them a little while to get in gear, but once they did, it was mission accomplished.

    After falling behind early, the Eagles once again looked the part of the best team not just in their division, but in all of the NFC.

    Maybe the entire NFL.

    Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz put on another show, tossing four touchdown passes and peeling off a wild scramble that will be replayed on highlight reels for approximately the rest of forever.

    Philly’s front four was once again dominant in the trenches, racking up four sacks and harassing Kirk Cousins all night.

    It was a game filled with good news for the Eagles, with one notable exception.

    As ESPN’s Tim McManus reported, All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters was carted from the field with a knee injury early in the second half.

    The injury didn’t cost the Eagles Monday night, but it could down the road.

    For now though, the Eagles are 6-1 and in total control of their division.

    Week 7 Grade: A-

    Season Grade: A

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Fred Vuich/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

    Score: Won 29-14

    Over the past two weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers have looked like arguably the best team in the AFC—maybe the best team in the NFL.

    In part, that's been because the team has been feeding tailback Le'Veon Bell early and often. Bell carried the ball 35 times for 134 yards in Sunday's 15-point win over Cincinnati. It's the second game in a row in which Bell has carried the ball over 30 times and topped the century mark.

    The even bigger story has been a Steelers defense that entered Week 7 among the best in the NFL. After shutting out the Bengals in the second half, the Steelers are second in the league in total defense and first in passing defense. They allow under 150 yards a game through the air.

    It's that defense that makes this Steelers team truly dangerous. With Bell, wideout Antonio Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger we know the Steelers can score points.

    You add a stifling defense to that mix, and you have a formidable football team.

    Perhaps even a Super one.

    Week 7 Grade: A-

    Season Grade: B+

San Francisco 49ers

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    Eric Risberg/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: Dallas Cowboys

    Score: Lost 40-10

    In recent weeks, the 49ers had turned snatching defeat from the jaws of victory into an art form. They lost close games in every way imaginable—including in overtime.

    They went a different direction in Week 7.

    Full-bore tomato can.

    There isn't a lot that can really be said about getting destroyed by 30 points at home in a game that wasn't as close as the score.

    At least from a passing perspective, C.J. Beathard wasn't awful in his first NFL start. The rookie completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards. But he also lost a pair of fumbles. Wideout Trent Taylor put the ball on the ground as well.

    The 49ers aren't the worst team in the NFL—that honor belongs to the Cleveland Browns. But this was their worst showing of the season.

    And when you look at their schedule, it's hard to point to a game and say, "This is where San Francisco will get a win."

    Especially when they play like they did in Week 7.

    Week 7 Grade: F

    Season Grade: F

Seattle Seahawks

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: at New York Giants

    Score: Won 24-7

    On the surface, Seattle’s 17-point win over the New York Giants looks impressive enough. Russell Wilson torched a good Giants defense for 334 yards and three touchdowns, while the defense put the clamps on Eli Manning and Co.

    However, if you watched the game, you know that many of the issues that have plagued the Seahawks in 2017 remained evident for much of the evening.

    The Seattle run game again struggled. The team ran for 104 yards, but that came on 31 carries. Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy combined for an unimpressive 70 yards on 22 totes.

    A leaky Seattle line continued to struggle protecting Wilson. He was only sacked once, but he was hit seven times and harassed with far too much regularity.

    Against a one-win Giants team, the Seahawks were able to overcome those problems and move to 4-2, half a game back of a Rams team Seattle has already beaten.

    But with three of their next four games against teams that were .500 or better entering Week 7, there’s still plenty of work to be done in the Emerald City.

    Week 7 Grade: B

    Season Grade: B

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: At Buffalo Bills

    Score: Lost 30-27

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered the 2017 season a promising young team with playoff aspirations.

    From the moment Hurricane Irma postponed their season opener, things haven't gone according to plan.

    There were the missed field goals that cost the team a home win over the New England Patriots. And the 31 points the Buccaneers spotted the Arizona Cardinals a week ago before storming back to lose 38-33.

    Now you can add a lead squandered in the last few minutes in Buffalo to the list.

    Sure, it was a late turnover that cost Tampa the game, but the fact is that in three of their four losses, the Buccaneers have allowed 30 or more points. And they allowed those outbursts to the Minnesota Vikings, Cardinals and now the Buffalo Bills.

    None of those teams is exactly an offensive powerhouse.

    The Buccaneers aren't sunk yet, but the pirate ship has sprung more than a few weeks.

    And with two straight NFC South matchups on tap, they'd better right that ship quickly or it's going to be sitting at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Week 7 Grade: D+

    Season Grade: D+

Tennessee Titans

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Week 7 Opponent: at Cleveland Browns

    Score: Won 12-9 (OT)

    If there is a game that qualifies as "escaping with a win," it's the Tennessee Titans' victory over the pitiful Cleveland Browns in overtime Sunday.

    Yes, the Titans won the game and moved to 4-3 on the season. But the final score was about the only thing to like about their effort in Week 7.

    Against a Cleveland defense that entered Week 7 allowing 26.2 points per game, the Titans were able to score just nine in regulation.

    After topping 131 rushing yards a week ago, tailback Derrick Henry racked up a whopping 13 yards on 13 carries.

    I'll let you figure his average there.

    A win is a win. By virtue of their victory over the Jaguars earlier this season, the Titans will leave Week 7 in first place in the AFC South. And Marcus Mariota is still working his way back from a hamstring injury.

    But it's hard to get too excited about the playoff potential of a team that can't find the end zone against one of the worst teams the NFL has seen in the last 20 years.

    Week 7 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: C

Washington Redskins

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Week 7 Opponent: at Philadelphia Eagles

    Score: Lost 34-24

    Monday night's matchup between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles was important for quarterback Kirk Cousins.

    With a win over the division-leading Eagles, Washington would be right at their heels in the NFC East. Lose, and the team would be 2.5 back with a pair of head-to-head losses to Philly.

    It was also a chance for Cousins to get a MNF monkey off his back. He entered the game 0-5 on Monday nights in his career.

    Make that 0-6.

    It wasn't Cousins' fault that the Redskins came up short on the road. He didn't allow four sacks and countless pressures. Or once again struggle to get stops in two-minute defense.

    This game was a microcosm for the 2017 Washington team. It's a pretty good group, but there are a handful of plays in a close game that can make the difference between a loss and a win. A few inches on a pass here or a missed tackle there. Washington is coming up on the short end of those plays far too often.

    And it is in danger of being relegated to also-ran status as a result.

    Week 7 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: C